People ask frequently why our products are expensive compared to other brands of outerwear.
For any product or service, there is a range of prices, a lot of different ways to do things. Until WeatherWool, nobody was fulfilling the potential of All-Purpose Woolen Outerwear. So we decided to fill that void ... We are making the best pure-American, pure-woolen outerwear we can figure out how to make. All of our components, processing, and craftsmanship are the best we can find, and again, American-only. Every decision we have ever made was intended to improve our products. The costs really add up. Here are some factors:
- We make our own Fabric, which is quite unusual for a small clothing manufacturer. We could save about 85% on the cost of our Fabric if we simply purchased fabric from the standard sources. But if we used run-of-the-mill fabric, we'd be just another company that had to rely on marketing to sell just another jacket. If we weren't making our own Fabric, we wouldn't be doing this at all
- Our raw wool is the best for our purposes and sourced directly from the ranchers. I think it was 2015, our raw wool cost on average $3.23 per pound (it costs a lot more now!), compared to the $0.60 - $0.75 per pound price of typical wool used for outerwear
- Every step in our production, all of our components, starting with the sheep themselves, then cleaning, spinning, dying, weaving, finishing, sewing, tailoring and delivery -- is the highest quality and purely USA. And almost all of it custom
- We use absolutely no cotton or fillers. Only pure, prime, small-batch American wool, sourced from America's leading ranches. Woolen garments typically have cotton and inferior types of wool mixed in. We don't use cotton thread either (cotton is bad news in wet conditions). Our mil-spec thread is very expensive and hard-to-get, but it is the best thread we can find
- All of our Fabrics are woven on a Jacquard loom. Normally, only complex patterns are woven on a Jacquard loom because it is the only loom that can create complex patterns. However, the Jacquard also creates a three-dimensional structure in the Fabric that significantly enhances performance. We may be the only people who weave Solid Colors on a Jacquard loom.
- We now use only what are known as Slot Buttons (or sometimes Rail Buttons). Slot Buttons cost about 25 times more than the standard US Military buttons we had been using, and they are significantly more expensive to sew, as well. All told, they are probably about 75 times the cost of typical buttons. BUT, Slot Buttons are much better at standing up to long, tough use. And nobody is ever going to think “Gee, I wish my Jacket was made with standard buttons instead of these Melamine Slot Buttons.” Read about Slot Buttons and other examples on our Details page.
- No-Risk Field Testing: Take WeatherWool out in the field and test it hard under the worst conditions ... for a while. Get a refund if you want. Basically, nobody wants the refund.
- Finished inside stitching. Because we don't use liners on the inside of our garments, our inside stitching is fully visible and therefore needs to be finished instead of rough, which significantly increases labor costs. A lot of tailors can't even produce finished inside stitching because they have never made garments that don't have liners to hide the inner stitching
- Free returns or exchanges or refunds. Even after heavy-duty field testing. We can't have anyone unhappy
- No additional cost for credit card processing or PayPal. These payment processors take anywhere from 2%-4% of the entire transaction
- Free shipping in the USA (even Alaska, Hawaii) and Canada. Shipping a garment costs us typically $20 or more
- Filling an order frequently costs us $50, but we don't like adding additional charges during checkout, so all costs are built into the price of our products. No extra charges
- No government subsidies
The costs for processing our raw fleece into Fabric are exceptional. We require special treatment at every step of the way. Our millers put this in writing: “... you are a special customer ... you have your own Mill within the Mill. We do not do this for any other customers.” All of our Fabrics, even our solid colors, are woven on a Jacquard loom, which is capable not only of producing complex patterns, but also creates in our Fabrics a three-dimensional structure that enables performance significantly superior to the typical standard/flat loom.
American Trench, an American maker of luxury garments, has purchased from us some Fabric for a Peacoat that we co-brand with them. They told us they view our Fabric as an extremely durable substitute for cashmere. We really like the sound of that!
Sometimes we have to go to crazy lengths to remain pure-American, but we are unwilling to make any exceptions. It turns out there are no American makers of the type of pure (soft!) merino woolen cuffs and ribs we need for our Hoodies and some other items. So, we had to start from scratch, by sourcing appropriate fiber, then having it spun and dyed to our specs, and then knitted into cuffs (and ribs). This process was very time-consuming and insanely (embarrassingly) expensive.
We are a very small company, making small quantities of garments. We worked three years to develop our first true production Fabric. Each garment we offer has been designed and fitted and tested repeatedly before we put our label on it. It is routine for us to spend thousands of dollars and more than a year developing a garment.
12 November 2020 --- Ralph